and the AP didn't refer to it as "gentle Bush ribbing
" and the villagers didn't defend it
as harmless, self-deprecating and funny.
and this definitely
did not appear in Ms. Lopez' National Review afterwards
I happened to be at the Correspondent's Dinner on Wednesday night and there's no doubt about it: Bush did well. As a former stand-up, I felt for A. J. Jamal, the comedian who had to follow the president that night. (Jamal tanked, by the way.) The gathered throng saw the photos, heard him deliver his "Those Weapons of Mass Destruction must be around here somewhere," and burst out laughing.
At least, everyone around me did. It turns out some people had a very different reaction. Here's this from socialist writer David Corn, who was also at the event:
The audience laughed. I grimaced... Disapproval must have registered upon my face, for one of my tablemates said, 'Come on, David, this is funny.' I wanted to reply, Over 500 Americans and literally countless Iraqis are dead because of a war that was supposedly fought to find weapons of mass destruction, and Bush is joking about it. Instead, I took a long drink of the lovely white wine that had come with our dinner [emphasis in the original]."
Oh, the humanity! The president is joking, my fellow journalists are laughing, and I'm sitting here swilling cheap banquet-hall chardonnay!
Some of the comedy complaints can be dismissed as pure partisan attacks of the "Bush did it so it must be bad" stripe. Interestingly, Kerry & Co. appear to be truly sincere in their offense. What happened Wednesday night really hurt them.
I think that what has aroused their passion isn't the joke, but the laughter. "Don't you know how bad things are in America?" Democrats seem to demand. "Don't you know how evil President Bush is? How can you laugh at that monster, particularly when he's talking about the most horrendous moment in American history — the invasion of Iraq!"
What the laughter from Wednesday's left-of-center Washington audience shows is that, even among their rank-and-file, the image of Bush as a plotting warmonger heartlessly making light of his foreign-policy trickery doesn't stick. President Bush was mocking himself and his current political predicament regarding WMDs, and the joke works because he clearly believes he's doing the right thing. Even the Washington press corps knows it.
But this is an election year, and political calculations conquer all, and so the Democratic p.r. machine will continue to push their anti-humor assault for as long as they think it will attract voters. But will it?
The Democrats are currently busy dividing the electorate into those who like to laugh and those who don't; between those who don't take themselves too seriously and those who do; between those of us who are smiling and the people who want to wipe that grin off our faces.
I know which team I want to be on in November.
You know. The team Katherine Jean Lopez plays for. The one which thinks we're in a war "not of our choosing," but at least it's funnier than Dick Cheney.